How To Improve Recreation Services?

How To Improve Recreation Services?

Special committee recommends all Reston organizations combine efforts to provide variety of facilities.

Reston was envisioned as a community whose residents could live, work and play there. The last part, play, was a reason why the Reston Association board of directors held a special meeting on Monday night.

"Recreation is the center of what Reston Association is about and what Reston Association continues to do," said Vicky Wingert, co-chair of the special committee on parks and recreation planning.

The directors heard from Wingert and Jim Kirby, the other co-chair of the special committee on parks and recreation planning. They delivered the committee’s final report to the directors, outlining its recommendations for RA’s recreation and open space master plan. One of the key recommendations was for organizations representing Reston residents — including the RA, Reston Community Center, Fairfax County Park Authority, Fairfax County Recreation Services and Reston Town Center — to set up a joint committee on recreation planning. Wingert said that while many Reston residents wish to see a skate park built in the community, it might not be necessary for RA to build one. The Park Authority has a skate park of a significant size planned for Lake Fairfax Park, said Wingert. She added that the county is considering a smaller skate park at Southgate Community Center. "Baron Cameron is a major park in the middle of Reston and we don’t have any direct link of how that is going to be planned for," said Wingert.

In its two years of work — the special committee met monthly from September 2005 to June 2007 — the committee heard from many residents who wanted to bring indoor tennis to Reston soon. RA president Jennifer Blackwell noted that the committee placed indoor tennis higher on its priority list than an indoor recreation facility, which did not reflect what PROS Consulting recommended to RA in 2005. The PROS plan called for an indoor recreation center that could potentially house indoor tennis. The special committee recommends indoor tennis as RA’s first indoor facility priority. Wingert said the future joint committee could examine how best to provide another indoor recreational facility in the Reston area. Kirby said that the special committee also favored a consideration of the future RA headquarters as a place for other indoor activities.

AS FAR AS INDOOR tennis is concerned, the special committee recommends building the facility on one of the baseball fields at the Brown’s Chapel area. "Indoor tennis needs to get some immediate attention in terms of drawing a push," said Wingert.

Larry Butler, RA’s director of parks and recreation, said initial talks with Reston Youth Baseball yielded a cooperative tone for the site. In return, Reston Youth Baseball could get an additional lighted field. "This makes the site more attractive. It’s making it more useful for baseball instead of less useful," said Wingert. She added that the facility could also be used for other indoor uses, such as camps and volleyball, in the summer when the demand for indoor tennis is not so high.

Reston Association directors also inquired about Reston pools during the meeting with the special committee. The committee recommends that both Tall Oaks and Shadowood pools remain operational as community pools. Wingert said that Dogwood Pool warranted a closer look from RA, given that it is the only pool with potential for significant expansion. It is also the only pool west of Reston Parkway. "It lends itself to doing more with that site," said Wingert.

Blackwell asked the special committee chairs whether the consultant recommendation on themed pools ought to be considered. Both Wingert and Kirby had a problem with themed pools. "SpongeBob Whatever is big right now," said Wingert, but would probably not be for long. "It dates the facility," she said, adding that there is a better use for the funds.

"The committee felt Reston Association is not Disney World," said Kirby.

Kathleen Driscoll McKee, RA’s South Lakes director, said Lake Fairfax is a themed park, and that there is no need for RA to provide that entertainment when the county is doing so at a large park in the Reston area.

The committee also considered two more findings key in its two-year process. It recommended that RA develops a Capital Facility Evaluation Policy that will seek community input on recreational facilities, what needs to be renovated and what needs to be built. The policy should include all facilities and should be updated every budget cycle. It also recommends that RA create additional funding for reserves, so that it could repair or replace the aging recreational facilities.